Padres’ latest bold move puts them among elite


James Shields reportedly signs 4-year deal with San Diego

I’m a fan of science fiction movies, and I never seen a transformation like this. I’ve never seen this big a pumpkin transformed into this ornate a crystal carriage.

With the signing of James Shields to go along with trades for Matt Kemp, Wil Myers, Justin Upton, and Derek Norris, the San Diego Padres are the clear winners of the 2014-15 offseason … which doesn’t mean anything anything when it comes to actual wins and losses.

When Dan Snyder and the Washington Redskins tried to win the NFL offseason with aging stars like Deion Sanders and Bruce Smith in the early 2000s, it was ridiculed. Whenever the New York Yankees did it, it was met with jealousy. LeBron James to South Beach was met with disgust. LeBron to Cleveland was given a hero’s welcome.

But this offseason, the Padres have been subjected to something that isn’t easily described. It’s probably some combination of “Whoa!” and “Who ARE these guys?” At the very least, the Padres have put themselves in the conversation of World Series contenders this season.

How wonderfully weird is that sentence to hear?

Shields is a very solid, if not elite pitcher that is more workhorse than show pony. He’ll be 33 on Opening Day and has been one of the more durable pitchers over his career as his eight straight years with 200-plus innings pitched shows. But what he represents is more valuable than it is tangible.

He becomes the ace for a young, upcoming staff with the experience they will need if they are to go far this season. And with his recent success in Kansas City, Shields embodies the hope of Padres fans who saw him in the World Series and are now saying out loud with true conviction, “That could be us!”

These kinds of single-season organizational makeovers in baseball can be incredibly successful (see Marlins, Florida 1997) or horribly disastrous (see Marlins, Miami 2012). With the hope and excitement come the questions and doubt.

Isn’t that a lot of money for a guy who’ll be 37 at the end of the contract? What about shortstop? Their lineup is awfully right-handed. Can Wil Myers stay healthy? Can Andrew Cashner? The World Series isn’t won in the winter ya know…

OK, all fair questions and concerns. But for a team that hasn’t been anything more than an afterthought in recent memory, isn’t this better than the long, still silences we’ve heard in past offseasons?